Emotional First Aid
Emotional First Aid A set of life skills used by lay citizens and emergency responders to provide the support a person who is emotionally shocked needs immediately following a crisis event. How to Help the Emotionally Injured After Tragedy Strikes
Reach Out Reach Out Physically
-Position yourself at the victims side and at his level.Touch - unless the victim pulls away. -Use a soft voice-Use the victim's name Reach Out Emotionally -Ask the victim how he is feeling-Acknowledge the victim's experience-Don't minimize the victim's experience (i.e. "You'll be O.K."
Don't Overlook the Quiet Victims -Many victims after a tragic event are stunned and may appear unaffected. -Remember that many people can be affected by a tragic event - witnesses, rescuers, children....Don't overlook these invisible victims. When you suspect someone is affected by a tragic event, reach out with Caring Curiosity - How are you?
Protect: Protect the victim from making impulsive decisions. Most major decisions can wait until the victim is thinking clearly -Protect the victims from being victimized by others who may not have the best interest of the victim in mind. -Provide for the victim's physical needs-food, medicine, safe place.
Reassure: Many victims have an urgent need for information after a tragic event - "What happened?"; "Why?" Assist the victim in getting the information he needs. The victim may need an Information Advocate. -Victims often blame themselves for the crisis event. Help a guilty victim gain perspective by asking him to tell you the "whole story." -Try to gently point out to the victim what he did right before, during, or after the tragic event.
Organize: Victims are often paralyzed after a tragic event and often lose their capacity to deal with all the new demands created by the tragedy. Assist the victim in developing a simple plan. Suggest - Let's focus on what needs to be done now."
Reinforce: the actions which the victim is taking or wants to take to emotionally survive the tragic event. The victim will struggle to find something or someone to hold onto in the first few hours. You may need to "clear the way" so that what the victim wants to do he is able to do. -Do not "over care" or do too much for the victim. Remember that the primary psychological challenge for the victim is to regain a sense of control. Therefore, the victim should be encouraged to make decisions and take action in his own behalf.
-Finally, a broken heart cannot "be fixed." Don't try! A caring presence is what you can offer to someone who is emotionally devastated. Just being there is very powerful and will be experienced by the victim as very helpful.
Summary:In the first few hours after a tragic event, the victim is often surrounded by people who have "a job to do" or who have opinions about what the victim should or shouldn't do. The primary goal of the person providing Emotional First Aid is to enable the victim to act according to his wishes, values, and beliefs and not according to what others think should be done.
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Links to National Sites
www.forgottenvictims.net Support services for people who have been the cause of a true automobile accident that resulted in another person's injury or death 1-877-NOT4GOT
www.jennadruck.org Families helping families provides numerous bereavement support and education
www.webhealing.com A place where men and women can discuss, share, understand and honor many different paths to healing.
www.beyondindigo.com Written greetings and tributes that can be shared in Quaker style at your leisure
www.bereavedfamilies.net A large site from Ontario, Canada for grieving families
www.groww.com Grief recovery on line
www.compassionatefriends.org Assisting families in the positive resolution of grief following the death of a child providing information to help others be supportive
www.journeyofhearts.com A place for resources and support to help those in the grief process
www.misschildren.org A non-profit volunteer based organization committed to providing emergency support parents after the death of a baby.
www.afsp.org Provides state by state directories of survivor support groups for families and friends of someone who completed suicide.
www.1000deaths.com A resource and memorial site by and for suicide survivors
www.griefnet.org A list of resources and other places to help deal with this type of tragic loss.
www.pomc.com National Organization of Parents of Murdered Children
www.aarp.org/griefandloss For seniors who have lost a loved one and are widowed
www.grief-recovery.com The action program for moving beyond loss.
www.petloss.com Support for the loss of a pet and a place for memorials and tributes.
www.goodgrief.org The Shiva Foundation ... Honors loss in the cycle of life
www.griefinc.com Lighting the candle of hope
www.kidsource.com Helping children cope with loss.
www.liveandlearn.com The number one source for concerned parents.
www.svlp.org Survivors of Violent Loss Program 10 week group sessions for all family members
www.sossd.org Survivors of Suicide Loss Support for survivors, family members, and friends Counseling & group support
www.donatelifecalifornia.org Organ Donor Information
www.giftfromwithin.org Domestic Violence safety Brochure from the American Bar Association Resources and Support for survivors of trauma
www.jfssd.org/jhc The Jewish Healing Center. Bereavement support available to people of all faiths. The Jewish Healing Center
www.dignifiedebituaries.com A place to place an obituary (ebituary) of a friend or relative on the internet.
www.grasphelp.org A support group for friends and family who had had a loved one die due to an overdose.